Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Water Resources Development Act of 1996

Water Resources Development Act of 1996 -- -P.L. 104-303, approved October 12, 1996, (110 Stat. 3658) authorized 31 new water resources projects. Modifications to 61 pre-existing projects were authorized as part of the Act. It contains the following provisions which affect, directly or indirectly, the Fish and Wildlife Service:

Title I, Water Resources Projects

Small Projects for Improvement of the Environment. The Secretary of the Army shall conduct a study for certain projects to determine if funding and implementation is warranted. Projects of interest to the Fish and Wildlife Service include: a project for fish and wildlife habitat restoration as part of the Pine Flat Dam, California; environmental restoration, including wetlands restoration and wildlife enhancement, on the Upper Truckee River, California; a project for fish and wildlife restoration on Ashley Creek, Utah. These projects would be carried out under authority of section 1135(a) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 USC 2309a(a). Under that provision, the Secretary of the Army shall coordinate any action with other relevant Federal, State, and local agencies. Such coordination would include the Service.

Title II, General Provisions

Restoration of Environmental Quality. The Secretary of the Army is authorized to undertake measures for environmental quality restoration and enhancement if he/she determines that construction and/or operation of a water resources development project has contributed to degradation of the quality of the environment.

Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration. Authorizes the Secretary of the Army to carry out ecosystem restoration and protection projects if determined that such projects will improve environmental quality, are in the public interest, and are cost-effective.

Shore Protection. The Secretary of the Army, in conducting studies and making recommendations for shore protection, shall coordinate with other Federal agency heads which may be implementing complimentary shore protection projects. Also, the Secretary shall consult with other Federal agencies in carrying out the National Shoreline Erosion Control Development and Demonstration Program.

Title III, Project-Related Provisions

Projects subject to completion of reports by the Secretary of the Army:

Alamo Dam, Arizona. The Secretary is authorized to operate the dam to provide fish and wildlife benefits both upstream and downstream of the development.

Red River Waterway, Louisiana. Modifies language providing for a fish and wildlife mitigation project on the Red River waterway.

White River Basin, Arkansas and Missouri. Modifies the purposes of the flood control and power generation in the White River Basin to include recreation and fish and wildlife mitigation, to the extent that the additional purposes do not affect the flood control and power generation purposes of the project.

Kaskaskia River, Illinois. Modifies the authorized navigation project on the Kaskaskia River to include fish and wildlife and habitat restoration as part of the projects purposes.

Broken Bow Lake, Red River Basin, Oklahoma. Modifies the flood control and water supply project to provide for the reallocation of a sufficient quantity of water storage space in Broken Bow Lake to support the Mountain Fork trout fishery. Water releases from Broken Bow Lake to support the trout fishery as mitigation for fish and wildlife losses are to be carried out at no expense to the State of Oklahoma.

Grand Prairie Region and Bayou Meto Basin, Arkansas. The project for flood control is reauthorized to include, as part of its scope, waterfowl management, if the changes in the projects scope are found to be technically sound, environmentally acceptable, and economical.

Title IV, Studies

Pine Flat Dam Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration, California. The Secretary of the Army shall study the advisability of fish and wildlife habitat improvement measures identified for further study by the Pine Flat Dam Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Investigation Reconnaissance Report.

West Dade, Florida. Orders a reconnaissance study by the Secretary of the Army to determine the Federal interest in using the West Dade, Florida, reuse facility as a means of improving water quality and increasing water quantity to the Everglades in order to enhance fish and wildlife habitat.

Grand Calumet River, Hammond, Indiana. The Secretary of the Army shall conduct a study to establish a methodology and schedule to restore wetlands at Wolf Lake and George Lake in Hammond, Indiana. No later that one year after the date on enactment, the Secretary shall submit to Congress the results of the study.

Northern Nevada. The Secretary of the Army shall conduct reconnaissance studies to determine the Federal interest in flood control, environmental restoration, conservation of fish and wildlife, recreation, water conservation, water quality, and toxic and radioactive waste on the Humboldt, Truckee, Carson, and Walker Rivers in Northern Nevada.

Title V, Miscellaneous Provisions

Provisions which do not provide for a specific role for the Service, but are of interest to us include:

Watershed Management, Restoration, and Development. Allows the Secretary of the Army to provide technical, planning, and design assistance to non-federal interests to carry out watershed management, restoration, and development projects, including wetlands restoration and demonstration of non-structural flood control technologies.

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Restoration and Protection Program. Establishes a pilot program to provide environmental assistance to non-Federal interests in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In carrying out the program, the Secretary of the Army is to cooperate with other appropriate Federal agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Research and Development Program to Improve Salmon Survival. Orders that the Secretary of the Army shall accelerate current activities and implement new activities to improve salmon survival in the Columbia River Basin. The Secretary is to coordinate activities with appropriate Federal agencies.

Everglades and South Florida Ecosystem Restoration. The Secretary of the Army is ordered to develop a plan and implement projects for the purpose of restoring, preserving, and protecting the South Florida ecosystem. In carrying out activities, the Secretary shall comply with any applicable Federal law, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Authority for the Department of the Interior to participate in restoration projects is protected in the Act. Further, the Secretary of the Interior is designated as the Chair of the newly created South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. Finally, the Secretary of the Interior is required to ensure public participation in the advisory process established for the task force.

Redwood River Basin, Minnesota. The Secretary of the Army is required to conduct a study , and develop a strategy, for the use of wetland restoration and nonstructural measures to reduce flood damage, improve water quality, and create wildlife habitat in the Redwood River basin. The Secretary may enter into cooperative agreements to provide financial assistance to appropriate Federal, state, and local agencies for the purposes of implementing projects under this section.

Hudson River Habitat Restoration, New York. The Secretary of the Army is directed to expedite a feasibility study of the Hudson River Habitat Restoration, Hudson River Basin, and may carry out no more than 4 projects for habitat restoration. The Secretary may cooperate with other agencies, local municipalities, and environmental groups in implementing projects under this section.

Upper Susquehanna River Basin, Pennsylvania and New York. The Secretary of the Army shall conduct a study, and develop a strategy for using wetland restoration and nonstructural measures to reduce flood damage, improve water quality, and create wildlife habitat in portions of the Upper Susquehanna River basin. The Secretary may enter into cooperative agreements in carrying out the study and developing the strategy under this section.

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